Jun 22, 2022 - Sports

Brittney Griner named honorary WNBA All-Star

Brittney Griner driving to the basket in the 2021 WNBA finals.

Brittney Griner driving to the basket in the 2021 WNBA finals. Photo: Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images

Basketball player Brittney Griner has been named an honorary WNBA All-Star and starter, the WNBA announced on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Griner has been detained in Russia, where she plays during the WNBA off-season, since February after agents allegedly found vape cartridges in her luggage. The U.S. considers her to be wrongfully detained.

  • A spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview this week denied that Griner is a hostage. He gave no update about a potential release.

What she's saying: “It is not difficult to imagine that if BG were here with us this season, she would once again be selected and would, no doubt, show off her incredible talents," said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a news release.

  • "So, it is only fitting that she be named as an honorary starter today and we continue to work on her safe return to the U.S.”
  • Worth noting: All-Stars are usually selected through a combination of fan voting and drafting reserves.

The big picture: U.S. officials have said the State Department has had regular contact with Griner's family. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Griner's wife, Cherelle, in May.

  • Cherelle Griner tried to call her wife about a dozen times over the weekend, but there was nobody at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to connect the couple, writes Axios' Erin Doherty.
  • The two haven't talked since Griner was arrested in February, Cherelle Griner told AP this week.

State of play: A Russian court extended Griner's detention for a second time earlier this month, meaning she will remain in custody until at least July 2.

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